Prime suspect in Vlakfontein family murders, Ernest Mabaso, has died
Ernest Mabaso, accused of murdering seven members of the Khoza family, has committed suicide in custody.
Mabaso was accused of burying the seven bodies under piles of sand inside the family's Gauteng home three months ago.
He hanged himself in a police cell in Cape Town, where he had been taken as part of the investigation, according to information provided to his lawyer, who told TimesLIVE he was still verifying the facts.
Mabaso was due to appear in court on Thursday for a scheduled bail application.
In December, a bail hearing was postponed after Mabaso, who had falsely called himself "Sibusiso Khoza", was absent from proceedings at the Protea Magistrate's Court. His lawyer said the 27-year-old was extremely ill and being treated at a prison hospital.
Defence lawyer Makau Sekgatja did not disclose the nature of the illness, only saying: "I've been told that he has pains and has been collapsing."
In October 2018‚ a stench at the house in Vlakfontein led the police to a gruesome discovery. They found the bodies of seven people – three women and four children – buried under a pile of sand in a bedroom in the house. The children were aged between two and 11.
In an affidavit previously filed in court, Mabaso acknowledged raping three of the Khoza family members, but stated that he intended to plead not guilty to all the charges. He claimed that he was forced into committing the crimes by co-accused Fita Khupe and his associates.
Khupe was in a long-term relationship with one of the Khoza women. He has denied any involvement in the murders.